Inside the Presidents' China Cabinet Slideshow
February 14, 2013
George W. Bush
During President Bush’s time in office, two sets were created. The larger was a full 320-piece set that consisted of a soft green pattern that worked well with most flower arrangements and was used for bigger functions. The smaller, the White House Magnolia Pattern, was made my Pickard China and only consisted of 75 settings, for affairs in the private quarters.
When Clinton took office as president, the White House was celebrating its bicentennial and the Clintons commissioned a collection that had each setting reflect the architectural elements found in various rooms of the White House.
When the White House was renovated in the early 1900s, the State Dining Room was enlarged, resulting in a need for new china. First lady Edith Roosevelt ordered Wedgewood china that was white and highlighted the Great Seal of the United States.
Harry S. Truman
The new State Dining Room was repainted a soft celadon green and paneled in oak and the Trumans wanted a new service to coordinate with the décor. First lady Bess Truman worked with New York department store B. Altman and Co. on the interior design, and she decided on a near-identical match for the set. President Truman has the seal on the setting standardized in 1945.
Manufactured by Parisian designer Dagoty-Honoré in 1817, this was the first set to be commissioned solely for presidential use. It consisted of 30 settings and portrayed a Napoleonic eagle in the center carrying a red, white, and blue flag reading "E Pluribus Unum."
James K. Polk
Many years later, in 1845, a new set was needed and this one was designed by Dagoty-Honoré as well. The set included a simple white center with gold trim, making it easy to mix with older collections.
This was the first collection to be chosen entirely by a first lady. Mary Todd Lincoln selected a china set with a deep purple hue called "Solferino," with an American bald eagle in the center and the national motto written across the clouds. It later became known as the "Royal Purple" set.
First lady Caroline Harrison selected china that was symbolic and representative of America. The Coat of Arms graced the center and the border portrayed a goldenrod and corn motif etched in gold and blue. Unfortunately, the collection was never used by the first lady, as she passed away before it arrived in 1892.
Lyndon B. Johnson
A more modest set, it portrays American wild flowers with a gold rim, with each set portraying one of the 50 state flowers. It was hand-selected by first lady Lady Bird Johnson as she designed it with artists from Tiffany & Co. and had it manufactured by Castleton China.
Modeled and designed after Woodrow Wilson's china and featuring the seal of the President of the United States, this set is etched gold on an ivory background with a border of scarlet. The china was hand-selected by first lady Nancy Reagan and was made by Lenox.
This set was the first to be made in America — by Lenox. At the time, the "newest" china in the White House was already 10 years old, from the Teddy Roosevelt era. This set was designed by Lenox’s chief designer Frank Holmes in 1918 and was hand-picked from a collection that first lady Edith Wilson saw in Dulin & Martin Co. while browsing.
Rutherford B. Hayes
Artist Theodore R. Davis met with first lady Lucy Hayes at the White House conservatory and he suggested a set be made to represent the flora and fauna of North America, so he created 130 designs that were so liked by the public that they were often reproduced.